Macron urges dialogue amid protests, defends gas tax hikes
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Macron urges dialogue amid protests, defends gas tax hikes

French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a conference at the UCL university in Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. French President Emmanuel Macron and French first lady Brigitte Macron conclude on Tuesday a two-day state visit to Belgium. (Yves Herman, Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is sticking to fuel tax hikes that have prompted nationwide protests but calling for “dialogue” to calm tensions.

In his first comments about the protests since more than a quarter million French drivers blocked roads Saturday, Macron acknowledged Tuesday that it’s “normal” that people are expressing frustration.

He said he’s trying to “change habits” by weaning the French off fossil fuels, “which is never simple.” He reiterated promises of subsidies for low-income households to buy cleaner cars or switch to cleaner home heating methods.

Speaking to students during a visit to Belgium, he didn’t comment on protest violence.

Scattered protests continued Tuesday on roads across France by drivers who dub themselves the “yellow jackets” for the neon vests they don during roadside emergencies.

The Associated Press

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